Higher power rates in March as ERC approves 'universal charge'


Posted at Feb 19 2013 07:10 PM | Updated as of Feb 20 2013 05:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Consumers will face higher electricity bills starting March. This as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has approved the collection of 19 centavos per kilowatthour (kWh) from electricity consumers to help pay P53 billion in stranded contract costs of the National Power Corp. (Napocor)

The ERC on Tuesday afternoon issued its long-awaited decision on the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation's (PSALM) collection of the "universal charge" of 19 centavos. 

The  P0.1938/kWh charge will take effect in the March 2013 billing period.

The collection of the universal charge of P53 billion will span four years. This means that ERC will have to recalculate the charge annually, since PSALM should file a true-up application every year for "any excess or deficiency in the universal charge collections for settling NPC's stranded contract costs."

For typical residential consumers with a monthly electricity consumption of 200 kWh, this translates to an additional P38.76 in their electricity bill.

The P0.1938/kWh charge is 47% lower than the PhP0.3666/kWh proposed by the PSALM, which is tasked to calculate the amount of stranded contract costs of Napocor and to liquidate the same. 

PSALM had calculated Napocor's stranded contract costs from 2007-2010 at P74.298 billion, but this was rejected by the ERC. The ERC only approved the amount of P53.581 billion for recovery from the universal charge. 

However, the regulator has not yet decided on another PSALM petition to recover stranded debts amounting to P65 billion covering 15 years, which will mean an additional 3 centavos per kilowatthour increase for consumers. - With report from Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News